What is my current latitude?

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Knowledge is a wonderful thing to possess. It is something that cannot be taken away from us. It stays with us, hopefully the volume of knowledge we possess grows with each passing day and it goes with us when we make the final journey to the “other” world.

And it is not something that has to be dependent on external factors to become apparent and visible. A person who says, “I can look knowledgeable if I had such and such with me” is not as knowledgeable as one who does not need to depend on such crutches. Let’s take navigation, for instance. It is extremely easy for anyone to whip out a GPS from the pocket and announce our geographical coordinates, our latitude and longitude. Is this person knowledgeable? Not quite. He possesses the instrument that makes him or her look and sound knowledgeable. Which serves the purpose when called for, but he or she will look like a dolt when called upon to announce the coordinates and he or she has misplaced his or her GPS. The gap between knowledge and stupidity can be a very short step away.

Talking of GPS systems and geographical coordinates, how can you sound and actually be knowledgeable without the use of external and modern gizmos? As long as you have the Sun shining overhead and a couple of straight sticks at hand, you can quite easily decipher the exact latitude you are located at. Let us see how.

First we need to figure out the exact time ‘noon’ occurs. Read this article to find out how. At that exact instance when it is noon at your location, take a second straight stick and place it on the side or at the base of the vertical stick. Place it in such a way that the shadow of the stick formed by the sunlight falling on it, falls on its own footprint, ie, there is no shadow at all of the second stick. Measure the angle formed between the two sticks, the angle towards the Sun and not the one towards the ground.

That is your latitude at that exact location. Remember, this is true only when it is noon, so be careful when you perform this task.

This angle is indicative to a few degrees. It will change depending on the time of year. Because the Sun apparently travels north and south throughout the year, which is what gives us our seasons. If you were standing at the Equator – on March 21 and September 23 (the days of the Equinox) – the shadow of the Sun on the vertical stick will fall on its own footprint, ie there will no shadow since the Sun will be directly overhead. With each passing day a shadow will be formed since the Sun will move either North or South depending on whether you are in the Northern or Southern hemisphere and whether it is before/after March or September and a combination of them. If you can make the calculation of this deviation (the Sun travels 23°26′14.1″ north of the Equator to the Tropic of Cancer in the summer of the Northern hemisphere from March 21 to June 21) and then calculate the angle, you will be exactly right every time … everywhere in the Northern hemisphere. And similarly for the Southern Hemisphere by calculating the daily degree variation as the Sun travels South to the Tropic of Capricorn.

If it is a clear night and you a couple of pencils with you, you can still calculate your latitude. Read about it here in this article.

Become one with knowledge and learn how to tell your latitude.


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